Alistair Brownlee dramatically hit winning form in the final round of the ITU World Championship Series. The Briton was locked in a fascinating battle with Javier Gomez of Spain over the final 10k run around the heart of Budapest, and went on to claim an exceptional win. Two hours later, his younger brother, Jonathan (20) was crowned Under 23 World Champion after an emphatic win.
Although Alistair Brownlee could not defend his 2009 world title, taking the final victory of the season has been one of his season’s goal since returning from injury in June.
Gomez led the swim with Brownlee and Britain’s Olly Freeman close behind. The trio briefly held a lead on the bike until a large pack formed. Freeman and Britain’s 2006 World Champion, Tim Don, fell victim to some poor road conditions and pot holes. Both were forced out of the race with injuries.
Stuart Hayes showed typically attacking form on the bike, but it was Brownlee who was always up front, emerging at the end of the 40k bike section in the lead, with the world title contenders, Javier Gomez and Jan Frodeno of Germany.
Brownlee hit the front and was followed by Gomez, but Frodeno clearly didn’t have the legs. As soon as the runners hit a slight incline over the Chain Bridge, Frodeno was passed by scores of athletes.
With Frodeno out of contention, Gomez was running for the world title, but Brownlee never let him control the race. As the two rounded the final corner with 100m to go, Brownlee sprinted for home.
“I tried to keep Gomez behind me to keep his kick out of him, said Brownlee. “That’s the most dangerous thing he’s got. I’m glad he got the title, I think he deserved it.
“The last 5-6 weeks have been really hard with that heat exhaustion, fatigue and injury at the beginning of the year. It’s fantastic to come out and race here today. I really didn’t know how it was going to go.
“The bike wasn’t hard, but it was dangerous. It was about keeping your wits about you. Stu (Hayes) tried to get away a couple of times so I had to watch that. I didn’t want anything too dangerous to get up the road because I wanted to win the race.
“When Gomez started to kick I stayed with him relatively comfortably and then in last 100m I gave it everything.”
Gomez claimed the world title ahead of Germany’s Steffen Justus and Australia’s Brad Kahlefeldt. Frodeno’s 41st place in Budapest meant he slipped from first to fourth place. Brownlee finished sixth.
Jonathan Brownlee started his battle for the U23 world title minutes after Alistair had won. As the swim start was 5k from the finish area, he hadn’t been able to see his brother’s race unfold.
Jonathan got to the front of the swim, raced aggressively on the bike, and started the run leg with a lead that stretched as the race went on. He had plenty of time to celebrate as he weaved up to the finishing line to claim the U23 world title, which Alistair also won in 2008.
“It was a real hard race,” admitted Jonathan post race. “I started the run and straight away got a gap of five seconds. I didn’t slow down at all till the last 100m. I wasn’t easing up at all, I was going as hard as I could, but I really enjoyed the last 100m.
“Our start was five minutes after Alistair finished. I heard some commentary but it wasn’t in English so I couldn’t understand it but I knew from the British coaches that he had won. I’m really pleased for Alistair as it’s been a bit of a strange season for him.”
David McNamee was Britain’s other athlete in the U23 event. He finished 20th.